Sign up for my weekly sewing newsletter or send my a comment or question

Sign up for my free weekly sewing newsletter

Sign up for my weekly sewing newsletter or send me a comment on this blog


Email *

Message *

About me

My photo
I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


Follow by Email

Follow me on Instagram




Friday, January 18, 2019

Batch cutting

I woke up this week on Monday and decided it was time I took some time to sew for myself.

Things have gotten a bit thin in the practical clothing department - a combination of a lot of quality time spent sewing for family and a combination of the influence of that stupid Kondo book (my apologies to anyone who thinks it is not stupid - just reflecting on my own situation) which has meant that every time I remember some odd garment that would be perfect for an odd occasion, I realize I have decluttered it out of life.

A person who saves things just in case is really swimming upstream these days. With both my daughter and one of my sisters all into minimalism and decluttering I have been talked into saying real dumb things to myself like "have a worn this in the last year?" before throwing them out.

Any realistic person, particularly one who sews, will tell you that not having worn something for a year is a completely meaningless criterion.

Reasons that a person might not have worn something for 12 months might include:
  • no one has died recently and that is a perfect funeral outfit
  • no one has gotten married recently and that is a perfect vaguely related to somebody on some side wedding guest outfit
  • forgetting you owned this item of clothing
    • because your closet is so full of other more recent sewing projects it was jammed in a closet corner
    • because your mind is elsewhere like on what you want to sew next so deeply that has pushed the what you have sewn already stuff out of your brain and through your ears into space or something like that
    • because you just forgot - which in itself means nothing and is a sign of nothing OK?
  • that this garment was so a) tedious b) slow c) tricky to sew that by the time it was finished you were so sick of the sight of it that you ignored it for a good long while
  • it needs some sort of alteration. No need to explain further, we all know how we all feel about alterations
  • you decided to change your look or style or whatever and went through a period where you decided you were anti-blouse and a knit person until the random moment when you remembered that knits cling and you really suit blouses
Well none of the above are good reasons to kiss any garment goodbye and send it on it's way thanking it for its service.

Although right now if I could get some things back from Value Village like that blue blouse that had a FBA and really fit or that Persian Lamb coat I might kiss them then.

All of this is to explain why I woke up this Monday morning and said "my turn."

So for most of this week when I wasn't working or being semi responsible or dog walking I cut out a bunch of projects, all things I need for the immediate future which next month is going to include state parking it to Texas and back.

Little explanation on the state parks and my husband.

Although the rv is pretty comfortable my spouse is an out in the woods versus a rv park with golf carts kind of guy. 

I like this myself, apart from the coyote sauntering past me sewing at the picnic table part, but it has very specific wardrobe requirements. Like warm clothes for when the propane runs out, or sort of publicly decent housecoats for going to the bath house for a shower because the hot water has run out because, well see above.

So I kind of let everything slide this week except cutting out. This is what I have on the table now:

4 pairs of knit jogger/sweatpants
2 pairs of linen wide legged pull-on pants
1 housecoat (that's what you call them in Canada. A lounger? bathrobe?) with a zipper to go in it
9 tee shirts
1 sort of sweater coat thing in really cool speckled jogging fleece
3 pullover Lovenotions Constellation tops
8 pairs of underwear because I had a lot of scraps and well that propane thing
I pair of knit pyjamas in a style that a six year old would wear in a snowflake print I was hoping to use up at Christmas

Of course I have a list too of things to make for other people, including an apron for a florist one of my other sisters works with, but my plan is to try to get as much of this done as I can over the next few weeks, and pack the rest up for finishing on the road, we leave on February 15th.

When all of this utility sewing is done I will turn my attention to a hopefully more interesting spring wardrobe. Right now though I am sort of looking forward to just getting some new things to wear for real life.

And I will post pictures.

In the meantime I will post a picture of what is in front of me now, my daughter's dog Reggie. I am sort of the designated dog sitter around here, Reggie and even my newly single long ago first husband's dog, because I like the dog.

Reggie is the biggest character though.

If you make eye contact he comes and sits on you, all 80 pounds and more or less you need a crane or another person to get him off, because he sure likes laps.

He also eats whatever isn't nailed down. This starts conversations around here like 

"Belt. Do you think I can leave my clothes for work laid out, even the belt. No you are right maybe not the belt. Better put it up somewhere high." 

Last time we had him he ate three pounds of butter and one pie, although he is a very neat eater. 

So far his personal best is an entire pineapple including the green leaves at the top. 

Not any dog can do that.

Well here is Reggie.

Probably resting up or at least digesting something.

He has to pace himself. I guess we all do.


Marcia Swanston said...

Your posts make my day, Barb! And I am so in awe of your prodigious output...

Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

"a combination of the influence of that stupid Kondo book"
Count me in the camp that the book is stupid. I also won't be watching the Netflix special.

Also Reggie is pretty funny and I don't like dogs. Glad you're sewing for yourself! It's time.

patsijean said...

I love in Tennessee now, but I am a Michigander; you can't take the Michigan out of this girl. We called them housecoats too.

Andekate said...

Reggie is a handsome boy. Nothing is safe around my golden retriever. Pattern envelopes and Swedish tracing paper are two of her favorite snacks.

Alison Garnett said...

Thank you for making me laugh out loud on a grim January morning! You're spot on about alterations. And I got rid of some lovely clothes because I was older now and they were never going to fit again. Until I lost the weight and ended up with a ton of alterations to do. A housecoat in the UK is called a dressing gown, by the way. (I have one based on a 1980s Vogue coat pattern, with eight panels and a shawl collar.) And no picture is needed to know that Reggie is a Labrador!

theresa said...

Thank you for the laugh. Reggie sounds like a character. I'm sort of with you on the Kondo book. Every time we do a deep clean and ditch we find we need whatever it is that we just ditched. Case in point: we are painting the house and brush and bulky trash day was coming up. We pitched the big cardboard boxes DH had been saving. The painter said he could use them. We managed to pull them out of the pile just in time (a rare occurrence) so after the painting is done, we will then dispose of them. After the house painting I'm going to be like you and do some me sewing. State parking is the way to travel. Have you been to Red Rock Canyon in Oklahoma?
Theresa in Tucson

KS_Sews said...

I thought I was in a rare minority!! I’m not Kondo’ing ANYTHING!!! :-p

That’s quite the list! And I smiled at the PJs. I have a colorful, heart print that is destined to become pajamas. I’m so excited:)

I’m from Chicago and we call them housecoats too!

Scenic Route said...

Yes, yes & yes!! :D)

Katrina Blanchalle said...

Welcome to the anti-Kondo revolution! Common sense should always override fads and that goes for tossing out your perfectly good clothes just because they don't spark joy. I've kept clothes though 10-year weight fluctuations and was incredibly thankful I did when the weight came off and I didn't have to buy or make all those clothes all over again. However, I do admit to getting rid of a few things from my alterations pile because I just couldn't stand to look at them any longer. :D

Sydney Brown said...

Hilarious post! Thank you! Bathrobes in California.

Tina Kesteloot said...

Hello, Reggie! You must be a cousin of my late yellow lab, Monroe. Monroe could eat ANYTHING...even a complete chocolate pie (and I was told that chocolate was poison for dogs), but not that yellow lab.

Be a happy gastronome!

Shelley said...

Thanks for your humour, much needed in the depths of winter. Just for the sake of argument I would point out that Kondo's book can't be too stupid - look at the money it will have made for her. But otherwise, I just read it for a laugh, I didn't take any of it seriously. I totally follow many of your reasons for not having worn something in a year. I am commenting, though, because I'm in love with Reggie, him being a Golden Retriever. I'm sure he's related to my old dog, Sunny, who ate his way through my entire shoe collection since we lived in an apartment where none of the doors shut properly. He's long gone now and I've never been able to bring myself to get another dog since. Will look forward to pictures of your garments!

garnet128 said...

That was a massive cutting session(s). And a very industrious sewing list now. I bore to easily if I cut a lot and don't sew it. I understand with the traveling you will be doing that it is easier to have it cut and ready tho so I am sure I would do the same in that case.

I totally agree with the 'stupid' Kondo. I won't even look at the book or the Netflix show. There has been enough decluttering shows/books around over the years and at my age, I think I can figure it out for myself now. And like you, I have the funeral outfit, wedding guest outfit and so on. I may not wear them that often, but need them when I need them...just brush the dust off.

Goldens are great dogs but they do get into what they should NOT. I laughed so hard at the butter and pie. I thought it was bad when mine ate a pound of butter and then left yellow piles of vomit in front of the door as we were not home...which is why he ate the butter, cause he could. He also ate a tube of Neosporin once and a weeks worth of heartworm pills (back when you gave it every day) another time. Gotta love them.

An entire pineapple is pretty impressive though.

Robert Kahan said...

Love this post. Here near Montreal it is a depressing minus 35, and laughing is much needed! My rescue Golden didn't eat items, but did run away when he heard a clap of thunder. Lots of fun racing after him. Kondo is not for me! I am making some changes to clothes I recently made. And then I love them. Take a break, and then return, after thinking of a solution, or asking around, or seeing it in a book. Cathie!

/anne... said...

My favourite layer when it's cold is a pair of Uniqlo Heattech tights. Despite being a Japanese company, they work well for us taller ladies, and they are WARM! Great under anything, including pants.

I have never regretted keeping something, but there are plenty of clothes (and patterns) I've regretted getting rid of.

To add to your list - haven't been skiing/swimming/hiking/worked in a formal office/worked in a casual office - I'm an IT contractor. I can work for a year or two in a place where if you wore a suit they'd wonder who'd died, then next I'm stuck in a staid corporate environment where only men wear trousers. I need a lot of clothes, because the quirky art teacher look works well in some places, whereas others are bland casual. Try coping with that from the 'French women have ten items of clothing' type of wardrobe!

Accordion3 said...

I'm not fond of Kondo's approach either. Especially when it come to books. She recommends only 30. SURE! My children had more than 30 books before they even hit 12 months. And I agree that tossing clothes that haven't been worn for 12 months is daft.

Here in Aus it's called a dressing gown..

Alexandra said...

Reggie sounds like a hoot! And OMG, you’re cutting out how many garments? That list of your is probably longer than what I make in a year. Wow!

Moosiemoose said...

Sorry to repeat most of what was said above but first thank you for the laughs. Second-WA state, bathrobes but our family said housecoats because Canadian parents (Winnipeg!!) Third, I adore you Carolyn and follow your blog but I have to step back and rethink that. How can anyone not like dogs? Ha Ha. Fourth, love Reggie. I had a mutt who had some odd tastes. He ate about 4 oz of baker's chocolate (thrown up on the newly cleaned carpets, of course), loved to chew on bars Irish Spring soap (could not leave it in the bathtub), and once chewed a tube of Desitin. That prompted a call to the vet. Said it was okay and then yes, he threw it up later, this time in the back seat of the car. So see, I can not understand why someone would not like dogs. But I think Reggie "wins" with the pineapple. Jean

Cuscini said...

Here in Massachusetts, if it has a zipper or buttons up the front, it's called a housecoat, while the type of kimono-lie garment that has a tie is called a bathrobe. May we ask the pattern you used? I've actually been thinking of how useful that style would be for travel!

Love Reggie and the pineapple -- wonder if labs are part goat?

Laceflower said...

The big problem for me with minimizing is you can't remember if you gave it away or just don't know where you put it. The straw for me was when the stem of one of a set of crystal champagne flutes snapped, after only about 4 uses!! and I had gotten rid of all my other single only flutes, I vowed to keep everything. I have great clothes in 2 sizes, have I worn them in the last 2 or 3 years, no, but they are there when needed. People who minimize just can't be DIYers, you have to save everything, just in case.
Happy sewing Barb